My first sixty days after quitting the drink
I quit the bottle more than two months ago now. I didn't have any specific physiological problem that some folks struggle with, I was just drinking more than I had and I was spending more time around people that would drink as part of their regular routine and I discovered that I just didn't want to be a part of that culture. I didn't like it, I didn't really like them, I needed a fresh start, a clean break.
I first announced it to my daughter to make a commitment. I said kid, your Dad is kinda fat, feeling a little slow these days, I'm going to give up the beer for a while, maybe you can hit the gym with me here and there. I think like all half assed commitments I have ever aspired to make she just sort of was like "sure Dad"...
It's been over two months and I have not touched a drop. It's become a matter of pride for me at this point, like I'm doing it, I'm showing myself that I have enough willpower to see it all the way through. I have lost a few pounds, nothing dramatic, but I'm slowly ramping up my physical work and still eating mostly poorly. But my mind... I've never felt so clear. Booze in any regular consumption cycle does this thing to your brain, I can't quite explain it, it adjusts your levels till you need a little more booze, or maybe more caffeine to come back the other way. Now I drink a cup of coffee in the morning to get going, I sleep fairly normally unless I'm stupid and I drink a giant cold brew coffee late, I don't need nearly as much caffeine to get through my day, I feel a greater emotional stability, when I'm upset about something my first thought isn't "where is my drink", I just sort of cope with it, think about an effective strategy for actually dealing with it and moving forward. I'm saving money too, of course I can find plenty of other stupid things to spend it on, but it's nice to have. I don't have an actual scientific number on a spreadsheet or anything, but I'd guess I have saved about $400 or so since I gave it up. I keep telling myself that's enough for that bitchin Spider Man PS4 Pro, but I have not pulled the trigger yet.
Today is going to be a challenge. It's the first day of regular season Merican Football and my wife's side of the family is obsessed with it. I'm invited to a party and ultimately, I was asked to go get the beer because in the past that's just what I did. I really don't want to do it, like I have not told everybody, my wife knows, my daughter knows, my mom and dad know, but other than that, I haven't really been like, look guys, I'm doing this thing for myself!!! So, it's going to be awkward because for years now, I'd drink a fair bit of beer, and today I'm not going to. I've decided before going there, it's a commitment I've made to myself and I'm keeping it despite whatever temptations are available.
Anyhow, if you have never done it in your adult life, I highly recommend letting the bottle go for a bit. It does not have to be sixty days, but I'd say a good three weeks or so is what it takes for your brain to sort of reboot. You get a chance to evaluate your own relationship with booze and kind of see how you feel without it for a stretch. In my adult life I only gave it up once for longer than this, but it was because I had an out of control stomach condition that forced me to, it wasn't by choice. This time I want to, and I feel really good about what I have accomplished so far. I made a commitment to myself, I have stuck to it, I know I'm going to continue to, now if I can just aspire to give up the Eskimo Pies in the freezer.... I think I can, I think I can....
I've often considered that thinking about alcohol in a reactionary way (rather a proactive way) is the first step down a slippery slope. On the rare occasion that I've thought something along the lines of "I need a drink" I get a nice tea and do something else instead. Anyway that shit is a downer, if you need a drink now, you'll need more til you're done.
If that makes you uncomfortable or it might tempt you, I highly suggest casually mentioning that you're retiring from beer for the season and offer something else instead. And if they're the sort of folks who'll give you grief about abstaining, just say it's to lose weight. The only thing more American than gridiron and beer is being on a diet.
I stopped drinking years ago: I'll still have one occasionally (maybe 3-4 cocktails a year, maybe a beer every six months), and I have zero regrets. It never made me feel better more than it made me feel worse. I'm already so out of shape as it is, the last goddamned thing I need is another thing affecting my health. You won't regret stopping. The social cost is very small.
There are many companies (in tech especially) where that isn't true, and the social cost begets a career cost. I have to be very careful as Vanilla grows that I don't accidentally encourage a get-drinks-with-your-boss path to promotion, because I do enjoy the hell out of going to the bar with a few people. It takes real effort. I mentally keep tabs of after-hours drinks and make sure the folks who need to get home to their kids periodically get an extra lunch instead. Or we kick off work early so everyone can join, and order appetizer so the non-drinkers still have something to socialize over. And I'm not suggesting I'm super enlightened about it, I'm highlighting how easy it is to slip into the default.
Yesterday went well. The get together was much smaller than planned. I think my wife told the gang I would not be bringing the beer because she didn't stop to do that. I just follow orders.
In about a month I have all my work peers flying in and we all get a hotel and down a conference for a couple days where the drinks will flow in the evenings. IT guys obsess about fancy craft beer and spirits. It's a thing. I'm over it, but with this bunch I don't think there will be any awful social pressure. They will be too into whatever they are doing to notice if I got a bottle or not so I'm not too worried about it.
It's not like I'll never enjoy a drink again, but my mindset is kind of like @primesuspect - maybe on a very special occasion I'll order a really nice cocktail or I'll be at the ballpark and say, okay, I'll do one light beer with a hot dog because I have not done that in forever. I'm kind of done with drunkenness though. I feel like I've sort of outgrown it, it doesn't appeal to me anymore and frankly, drunken people, I used to find them sort of entertaining, but after some experiences in the last year or so, I just kind of feel sorry for them and I just don't want to see it or be around it, and the best way to do that is just abstain.
It was sort of cathartic to write this all down. I don't really like to get into discussions about it. I almost feel like the people that know about my new stance on drinking, it gives them a complex, like I'm judging them or something if they like to drink, which I'm not, because in a way I still really like to drink, I've just decided it's better for me if I don't. When my stepson found out yesterday it was an adjustment for him, like he internalized it that I didn't want to drink with him. I think he got over that hurdle very quickly, like it’s not a problem once he had a few minutes to process it, but people seem genuinely surprised. Like I know my wife is at times, she would avoid eating places that had a bar and I assured her, it isn't an issue, I'll just order tea, I like tea, it's all good.
Thanks Icrontic for giving me a place to post my little internal monologue. I really appreciate it.
Sounds like we have a very similar journey with alcohol, Cliff. The part about others feeling weird around you because they're drinking resonates with me. I truly don't care if others drink around me (Icrontic lol) but I just ... don't want to. I don't care if others do, but if you're the only one not drinking sometimes it feels like you're being a downer in the room. I find that I tend to isolate myself around others who are drinking because its a little bit lame to be the only sober guy in the room.
I also know this song, but my epiphany was a lot longer ago. I over-drank myself a few times as a teen, and hated it. I didn't like being drunk, and I didn't like my friends when they were drunk. I didn't drink at all in my 20s, and I didn't allow drinking at events I hosted because my memories of teen drinking parties were such poor points. EVENTUALLY, Betsy talked me into relenting because she had friends who wouldn't come to our events unless they were allowed to have a few beers, and I learned after a while that people in their 30s having a few drinks are much different from teenagers who have a few drinks. But mostly I don't even like the drinks, and I limit myself to one drink at any given occasion.
I started drinking more when we got to Germany because my new friends were suspicious of a guy who didn't want a beer after boardgames night, but I finally gave it up last month. I was drinking a drink I didn't really like, and that wasn't good for me, just to fit in, and I decided to stop. The guys - jokingly - gave me shit for the first couple weeks, but after that no one even brought it up. They all had beers, and I had a Coke Light, and we played more games, and it was fine. I still get a funny look from the waiter at the beer hall, but whatever. I expect I will have more drinks occasionally just to not look like a weirdo here in Germany, but not every week anymore.
Thanks for posting this, Cliff. I've been thinking that I need to take a break from the 'ole booze myself. I feel like my tolerance for it is getting higher than I'm comfortable with, and I could use a reset. I've taken 2 weeks off here or there, but haven't done longer than that in quite a while. Something social where I want to drink always seems to come up! Better poke my willpower, heh.
Yeah, I didnt drink for nearly two months while I was getting back in shape. Definitely put into perspective that my "craft beer hobby" was really just an excuse to drink fancy beers all the damn time. I have started to enjoy a beer here and there now that't I've gotten close to my personal health goals, but definitely try to keep it as a treat as it should be.
One of the things I discovered is I'm more susceptible to marketing than I ever thought I was. Like the idea of craft beer as a culture, a hobby, a movement..... It's very powerful. When you buy from your local brewer you almost feel like you are part of something. Like yeah, I buy beer from these guys because you know, not an evil mega corp and they brew close by, and man they need my $14.95 for a sixer!!! Gotta fight big brew man!!! When you are into it, you don't really stop to evaluate it. When you stop for a bit and you ride by a liquor store, or you see the adds on your Facebook feed, or sit in a restaurant with that big Dogfish Head beer tap and you don't ask for one, you almost feel like you are letting them down, which is kind of crazy, but at least that has been my experience. I have turned off all alcohol related adds on my Facebook feed because seeing them does not help. I never thought marketing had any power over me and I'm discovering it was a greater driver in my behavior than I was aware of. I'm not upset about it or anything, it's just funny how screwed up the human psychology is. How we believe certain things about ourselves based on suggestion.
Yea, I've definitely been trying to cut back on beer/booze for calorie reasons, too. So tasty and yet so bad for you, heh. I don't drink milkshakes because of the calories, why am I drinking a milkshake ipa? (so good tho)
I think a lot of people would drink a lot less if the calories had to be listed on the label like other drinks. Many beers are as much calories as juice or soda. a few beers/night is a LOT of sugar.
Congrats man, I've been cutting back too, religious reasons, need to quit, now it's just stress drinking and a little celebratory, liquor granted but still. Point is keep it up, we're all here for ya.
There are as many calories as an equivalently sized soda or juice, but not sugar. Beer should have very low residual sugars as they've been fermented into alcohol by the yeast.
I've officially taken a month off! This is an extremely small accomplishment, but since that month covered Halloween, a three day weekend, and the midterm elections, I think I did okay. I'll likely have some wine tomorrow for Thanksgiving.
I have had just a four beers since this post. I had a work outing that went to the new Baltimore Guinness taphouse where the Blonde is brewed now. I have to say, it's better coming out of Baltimore than the Latrobe brewery. I was there, I tried two different beers, and I had enough. I also had a couple pints of Miller High Life with some Grotto Pizza on a trip to DE for a few days. I was just with my wife and Kid and just wanted to taste a boring American domestic beer with some good Pizza. It was a treat.
I'll be curious once you have your first couple if you find yourself like me. First, you kind of really enjoy the drink as a treat. Taking time away kind of re defined my relationship with the booze. Those two times, it was a total treat to have a beer vs. a habit. Also, I had no pressing desire to have anymore after that. It wasn't like... okay, I'm drinking again. It was more like, oh, it was nice to have a drink, I'll see you again next month. Beer has become someone I like to visit from time to time, but not someone I really want to live with. I don't think I could have gotten to that without conscientiously abstaining from it for a good period of time.